Language contact between Russian and Kyrgyz speakers in the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic and in present day Kyrgyzstan has historically been a source of conflict. With independence, the young state began its search for a new identity in which language played a crucial role. Communicative and symbolic necessities therefore had to be considered in the formulation of an adequate language policy. This book describes the sociolinguistic processes in independent Kyrgyzstan from an ethno-linguistic perspective and gives an overview of language policy in both the Soviet Union and independent Kyrgyzstan. Drawing on 25 in-depth interviews and observations conducted during two years of fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan, the author explains why, in contrast to the status of titular languages in other former Soviet republics, the Kyrgyz language in Kyrgyzstan is still dominated by Russian after more than a decade of independence.